What if you wrote you are God’s elect, self-chosen
to bring order into a “new world,”
settled by natives seen as stray commas,
or apostrophes, in illiterate forests, a wilderness
hostile to your godly virtues of order and control,
a wilderness whose trees you fell to make
What if the few who traveled on the “sweet ship”
move away from your settlement to start their own
in a land grab you see will destroy your
You lie there, dying — “blessed fruits” rotting,
voices in death promising “fruits of glory,”
your first England and your first Plymouth —
I look out my window from my house at a
field not far
from the settlement you built, and see a pond, grass,
trees the color of Indians you dispossessed.
I hunt for arrowheads shot years ago.
Here by our Witch Brook, Wampanoags wintered.
Near our house in Aquinnah, Wampanoags
were buried on a high hill overlooking the sea,
and a sacred grove of beetlebung trees.
I am here thanks to the theft of a few bushels
of Indian corn,
which got the Pilgrims through their first winter.
I am here hearing daylong prayers on the Sabbath
led by William Brewster — from whom
But I am here now to say the names
of the descendants of our fathers’ pride,
the people of the forests: Anne, Luther,
Berta, Adriana, Carla, Faith, Buddy,
David, Emily, Tobias, June, Janette
Beverly, Gladys, children of those who came
first to share food, then land, then money
in exchange for disease, rifles, breakdown.
What can we do? Unless asked, nothing.
Nothing unwanted. Healing like this takes time —
needed on both sides a feast of regret and respect;
honor for the survivors on this surviving land.
— Fan Ogilvie
West Tisbury Poet Laureate